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Mind-Body Interventions for Gastrointestinal Conditions

Which mind-body therapy works best for GI conditions? Behavioral therapy, biofeedback, CBT, hypnosis or another? Find out.

Which mind-body therapy works best for GI conditions? Behavioral therapy, biofeedback, CBT, hypnosis or another? Find out.

Summary

Under its Evidence-based Practice Program, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is developing scientific information for other agencies and organizations on which to base clinical guidelines, performance measures, and other quality improvement tools. Contractor institutions review all relevant scientific literature on assigned clinical care topics and produce evidence reports and technology assessments, conduct research on methodologies and the effectiveness of their implementation, and participate in technical assistance activities.

Overview

The objective of this evidence report was to search the literature on the use of mind-body therapies for the treatment of health conditions and, on the basis of this search, to choose either a condition or mind-body modality for a comprehensive review.

A broad search of mind-body therapies showed that there were sufficient studies regarding their use for gastrointestinal (GI) conditions to warrant a detailed review. GI conditions pose a significant health problem, and they can be challenging to manage. They also have been the focus of mind-body interventions, including:

  • Behavioral therapy.
  • Biofeedback.
  • Cognitive therapy.
  • Guided imagery.
  • Hypnosis.
  • Meditation.
  • Placebo therapy used as an intervention.
  • Relaxation therapy.
  • Multimodal therapy.

 

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However, no studies of meditation were found that used a comparative treatment design. Therefore, this report reviews the use of behavioral therapy, biofeedback, cognitive therapy, guided imagery, hypnosis, placebo therapy, relaxation therapy, and multimodal therapy for the treatment of GI conditions.

Reporting the Evidence

The purpose of this work is to identify those mind-body therapies that have empirical support of efficacy. Such information can be used to help health care providers care for patients with GI conditions and to identify future research needs. The specific questions addressed in this report are:

  1. What mind-body therapies have been reported in the literature, for which body systems/conditions, and using what kind of research design?

  2. What is the efficacy of mind-body therapies for the treatment of gastrointestinal conditions?

An initial broad search of the mind-body literature yielded 2,460 titles, of which 690 were judged possibly relevant to our investigation based on the use of a short screening form. This form screened for:

  • Source of the article.
  • Subject.
  • Language.
  • Focus.
  • Body system.
  • Outcomes.
  • Modalities used.
  • Human/animal subjects.
  • Study type.

Last Updated: 08 July 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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